Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mel Stottlemyre is 'Fighting For His Life'

Off the news of Carrie Fisher having a massive heart attack (USA Today) comes word that Mel Stottlemyre, once the heart and soul of the Yankees' late-60's/early 70's pitching staff is "fighting for his life."

Mel's son, Todd Stottlemyre, passed along the news early today on social media (ESPN).

Mel came to the Yankees in 1964 and went 9-3 before losing to Bob Gibson (hardly a crime) in game 7 of the World Series. Gibson pitched on two-days rest and went the distance. Different times. Stottlemyre threw a complete effort to win game 2, beating Gibson 8-3.

Sadly that would be Mel's only postseason, as the Yankees faded badly over the next decade.

Mel would remain the ace of the staff, and become a five-time All-Star. In 11 seasons, he pitched to a 2.97 ERA, while winning 164 games. Unfortunately, he led the league in losses twice (1966, when he dropped 20 decisions, and 1972, when he lost 18).

His best years were clearly 1968 (the year of the pitcher), when he went 21-12 with a 2.45 ERA. But 1969, with the change in mound height, was his absolute best. Mel went 20-14 with a 2.82 ERA and a league-high 24 complete games.

Mel had arm problems that ended his career at just 33. He was released in early 1975, and eventually reemerged as one of the best pitching coaches in the game. It was Stottlemyre who was alongside Davey Johnson as the Mets won it all in '86. Then Mel went to the Astros and before he rejoined the Yankees. There, with Joe Torre, the Yankees had one of their best runs in history, grasping four more rings between 1996 and 2000.

Mel was a favorite of mine, along with that Murcer guy in the early 70's.
Mel and Bobby Murcer, Old Timer's Day.

I don't have words without being trite, other than best wishes. I wish I had more.

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